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Novel radiotracer shines new light on the brains of Alzheimer's disease patients
Date:6/24/2010

A trial of a novel radioactive compound readily and safely distinguished the brains of Alzheimer's disease patients from healthy volunteers on brain scans and opens the doors to making such imaging available beyond facilities that can manufacture their own radioactive compounds. The results, reported by a Johns Hopkins team in the June Journal of Nuclear Medicine, could lead to better ways to distinguish Alzheimer's from other types of dementia, track disease progression and develop new therapeutics to fight the memory-ravaging disease.

Previously, the only way to peer into the brains of Alzheimer's patients was through autopsy or the use of another radioactive compound used in scans, or radiotracer, known as Pittsburgh compound or PIB. PIB is drawn to a protein known as beta-amyloid, which accumulates abnormally in the brains of Alzheimer's patients. However, PIB has a half-life of only 20 minutes, meaning that half of the substance degenerates every 20 minutes after it is made. Consequently, PIB's use is possible only at a few hospitals or academic medical centers with facilities to manufacture it since this compound degenerates so rapidly.

To solve this conundrum, Dean F. Wong, M.D., Ph.D., a professor of radiology and psychiatry at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, and his colleagues looked to a new radiotracer known as 18F-AV-45 (also known as florbetapir F18). This compound, based on the radioactive isotope fluorine-18, is drawn to beta-amyloid like PIB. However, unlike PIB, florbetapir has a half-life of about 110 minutes, greatly increasing its ability to be transported significant distances away from manufacturing facilities.

Testing the new compound for the first time in humans, Wong and his colleagues recruited 26 volunteers 11 previously diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease, and 15 healthy subjects of similar age who performed normally on cognitive tests. Each of these volunteers received an injection
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Contact: Christen Brownlee
cbrownlee@jhmi.edu
410-955-7832
Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions
Source:Eurekalert

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